Friday, October 11, 2013
Some Questions on Characters
Rebecca asked: Are any of your characters based on real people, historical or living, loosely or firmly?
The murder victim in What Darkness Brings was loosely inspired by an historical figure, a diamond merchant named Daniel Eliason who is known to have possessed the Hope Diamond in September of 1812. But that was all I knew about him; the nasty, twisted character of my victim, Daniel Eisler, was all my own invention. Sometimes I will take isolated aspects of people I know and use them--a physical characteristic, a personality trait, a gesture, a habit of speech. But I rarely go beyond that. Only when I'm using a known historical figure, such as the Prince Regent, or Marie Antoinette's daughter, or Jane Austen, do I try very hard to make my portrayals as accurate and true to the person as I can. But usually my characters just....come. It's a rather magical experience, and one of the aspects of writing I find most enjoyable.
Paz wrote: "My questions are all about Tom. I am terribly intrigued by Sebastian's relationship to him... What inspired the character? Do you have plans to develop Tom's backstory? How do you see Tom's relationship with Sebastian developing?"
This is a tad embarrassing because the truth is I don't remember exactly what was going through my head ten years ago now when I came up with the character of Tom. He was one of those characters who leapt off the page as I was writing and quickly became far more than I'd envisioned. I do know that his backstory was inspired by a book I read long ago, The Women of Botany Bay, about the mothers who were transported from England to Australia and how many of them were forced to leave their children behind to simply fend for themselves. As a mother, that always horrified me.
I have very much enjoyed Sebastian's interactions with Tom, how it brings out sides of Sebastian we don't otherwise see. I have toyed with the idea of doing more with his backstory in a future book, but whether I do or not will probably depend on whether it fits in well with one of the murders. As for how I see Tom's relationship with Sebastian developing, it will obviously shift as Tom grows older. Exactly how, I don't think I'll plan. I try to let those sorts of things develop naturally.
And if your wondering about my CH kittens, we almost lost them last weekend after they reacted badly to some aspect of their vet visit. We're now bottle feeding them kitten formula every 4-6 hours, and they're slowly regaining strength, although they still can't stand up or feed themselves. It's all been very emotional and exhausting and time consuming. Although the silver lining is that my once wild kittens are now tame little sweethearts who love nothing better than to be held and petted and told how much they're loved.